Lee Kinsella is a curator at the Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery at the University of Western Australia. She has written articles and contributed to several books on Australian art, co-editing Into the Light: The Cruthers Collection of Women's Art in 2012 and HERE&NOW13 in 2013.
Volume 29, November 2013
This special issue of Outskirts is the result of a successful partnership at the University of Western Australia, Perth, between Gender Studies and the Cruthers Collection of Women's Art (CCWA). The Cruthers Collection is a specialist collection of Australian women’s art gifted to the University of Western Australia in June 2007 by Sir James and Lady Sheila Cruthers, and consists of over 600 artworks.
A major exhibition of works drawn from the Collection was mounted in October 2012 at the University’s purpose-built art museum, the Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery. LOOK. LOOK AGAIN was an exhibition of 140 paintings, drawings, prints, sculptures and installation works that spanned 125 years of women’s art practice. The exhibition was co-curated by Felicity Johnston and John Cruthers. Concurrently, a book on the collection, Into The Light (edited by John Cruthers and myself), was published by UWA Publishing, and a two-day symposium with the somewhat provocative title, 'Are We There Yet?' was held on 20- 21 October 2012.
The symposium consisted of a remarkable number of presentations from artists, arts professionals and academics who interrogated the validity of feminism today and discussed which feminist strategies continue to have traction. It was also an opportunity to acknowledge the history of feminism in Australia, particularly as it relates to the visual arts.
What was very clear from the outset was that there was no heterogeneous 'we' of the symposium title, and nor was there a single, shared destination. Instead, symposium participants were presented with a diverse range of distinct voices including those of Catherine Morris, curator at the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum, who presented the keynote address; Jo Holder, Director/Curator of The Cross Art Projects - Contemporary Art and Curatorial Platforms; Daniel Thomas, writer, pioneering curator of Australian art and former Director of the Art Gallery of South Australia; Juliette Peers, lecturer, School of Architecture and Design, RMIT; and Anne Ferran, photographer and Associate Professor, Photomedia, University of Sydney.
The three papers presented in this issue of Outskirts testify to the breadth of vision over the 2-day symposium. Jude Adams's article provides personal insights from the perspective of a participant involved in the Women's Art Movement from the 1970s, supported by a rich array of works of art drawn from this period through to the early 80s. Elvis Richardson (aka The CoUNTess) examines statistics relating to contemporary artists gender representation, profiling the breakdown of male and female artists represented in exhibitions, competitions and public art collections. Finally, Odette Kelada argues that feminism has provided useful strategies for the analysis of power relations, which can be applied to whiteness also.
My thanks to the authors and reviewers, and in particular to Alison Bartlett, for making editing this issue such a pleasure. I would also like to take this opportunity to extend to the new curator of the Cruthers Collection of Women's Art, Gemma Weston, my best wishes as she steers the collection forward.